GT's best dishes of 2012: David Sly

Author: David Sly
Photography: John Kruger

1. Sashimi tuna and radish, Celsius
Pretty presentation has become an art form, but this is the most beautiful dish I've seen plated in a long while, a complex sashimi and radish entrée (pictured left) assembled by chef Ayhan Erkoc in a way that's truly elegant - if such a thing can be said about tuna. Celsius, 95-97 Gouger St, Adelaide, SA, (08) 8231 6023

2. Whole carved duck, Mantra on King William
Following the revival of chateaubriand, chef Tom Reid also started serving boards carrying whole carved duck to the table. It combined value, generosity and great flavour with a bit of service theatre  and some starter shots of intense duck broth. I ate the dish in June, just as the weather was getting cold, and it was perfect. It stayed on the menu through winter, then strangely disappeared soon before the restaurant closed. But it was a gem and I'd love it to be remembered. 

3. Blood sausage and parmesan empanadas, Azafrán
A modern spin on traditional Argentinean food by chef Pablo Ranea has him serving a trio of clever empanadas: sweetbread and mushroom, chorizo and onion, and blood sausage and parmesan - matched respectively to tasting glasses of torrontés, malbec and petit verdot. Azafrán, Sarmiento 765, Mendoza, Argentina, +54 261 429 4200

4. Steamed baby squid with squid dumpling, pearl barley tabbouleh and samphire, The Elbow Room
This is a smart embrace of locality and freshness. Chef Nigel Rich has the fishing contacts in the neighbouring Gulf St Vincent to get great fresh baby squid, which he steams and serves with drops of Bloody Mary foam, squid ink sauce made from a reduced fish broth, a crisp squid dumpling and local samphire. The Elbow Room, Cnr Stump Hill & Main Rds, McLaren Vale, SA, (08) 8323 8686

5. Lobster medallion, d'Arry's Verandah
Peter Reschke's signature remains a worthy highlight: an outstanding lobster medallion with blue swimmer crab and prawn ravioli in lobster bisque. d'Arry's Verandah, d'Arenberg Winery, Osborn Rd, McLaren Vale, SA, (08) 8329 4848

6. Ojo de bife, La Cabrera
The king of mod bistro-style steakhouses in Buenos Aires continues to get it absolutely right. The meat portions are uniformly huge, so it's best to share this juicy 600gm ojo de bife, carved at the table with a spoon. This is the happy marriage of tenderness and intense meaty flavour. La Cabrera, 5127 Cabrera St, Buenos Aires, Argentina, +54 11 4832 5754

7. Whiting with buckwheat noodles, Petaluma's Bridgewater Mill
Zac Ronayne's presentation of yellowtail whiting combines the fish in both fried and marinated forms with buckwheat noodles and ponzu to winning effect. Petaluma's Bridgewater Mill, 389 Mount Barker Rd, Bridgewater, SA, (08) 8339 9200

8. Smoked mackerel and potato omelette, Albert Street Food & Wine
Philippa Sibley puts some muscle and magic into breakfast with a gutsy smoked mackerel and potato omelette, refreshed with a generous dab of crème fraîche and some pungent fresh-cut chives. Albert St Food & Wine, 382 Sydney Rd, Brunswick, Vic, (03) 8354 6600

9. Porcini, brodo and egg, Vincenzo's Cucina Vera
Vincenzo LaMontagna found out about the very first tiny crop of porcini mushrooms that sprouted in the Adelaide Hills last year and snaffled a few for his restaurant guests, to an overwhelming response. This March, LaMontagna laid hands on some more, and so diners who arrived for his unscripted nightly dégustation menu got to enjoy these intensely flavoured porcini only a few hours after they were picked. LaMontagna wanted to let the earthy flavours of these potent mushrooms do all the talking, so he simply allowed them to drink up some concentrated chicken stock, complemented by the contrasting soft ooze of a slow-poached egg. Luscious and intense, the flavours lingered as long and true as a fine Barolo. Vincenzo's Cucina Vera, 77 Unley Rd, Parkside, SA, (08) 8271 1000

10. Corvina ceviche, Tanta
Chef Gastón Acurio pushes Peruvian cuisine nouveau, but at his chic café-bistro Tanta the kitchen still shows how great ceviche can be. Big firm chunks of fresh, fleshy sea bass are marinated with the right blend of lime and aji, succulent and juicy, with a tangy, mouth-watering finish - demanding another gulp of an accompanying Pisco Sour. Tanta, Pasaje Santa Rosa, Lima 15001, Peru, +51 1 421 9708







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